Over half of Costa Rica is covered in forests, much of that being primary and virgin rainforests. Add that to the 800 miles of coastline with 300 beaches—plus the country's 28 national parks (three of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites)—and you have a natural haven on your hands. Every region in Costa Rica is filled with opportunities to experience the country's incredible landscapes, which draws travelers every year.
Hiking is an excellent way to immerse yourself in the country's nature. Trek through virgin rainforests in search of wildlife, discover hidden waterfalls, or enjoy the view of an active volcano while you hike along hardened lava flows.
Arenal Volcano Hikes
Enjoy a moderate hike over the hardened remnants of lava flows from Arenal Volcano's 1968 eruption, a catastrophic event that changed the region's topography. All of the routes in the area open up to viewpoints that offer incredible scenery of the volcano. There are several trails from which to choose, some shorter or easier than others, but all offer a scenic trek in beautiful Arenal. Read More
Manuel Antonio National Park Nature Hike
Explore the 1,680 acres (680 hectares) of Manuel Antonio National Park, a protected area home to a lush rainforest running from the mountains down to the coast. As you walk across relatively flat trails, your naturalist guide will point out some of the over 300 species in the reserve, including three-toed sloths, hawks, iguanas, and several different monkeys. In the end, relax on the park's famous crescent-shaped beach. Read More
Monteverde Cloud Forest Hike
Known as "the green lung" of Costa Rica, Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve features 26,000 acres high in the mountainous northwest region of the country. While hiking in the park, get an up-close view of the 350 bird species, plus many other forest creatures, such as three-toed sloths, tapirs, big cats, rhinoceros beetles, and red-eyed tree frogs, plus howler and white-faced capuchin monkeys. Read More
Rio Celeste Day Trip
The Rio Celeste sits inside Tenorio Volcano National Park and is one of Costa Rica's most beautiful natural places. Meaning "river of the sky," the unique turquoise water comes from the mixture of sulfur and carbonate, which originates in the nearby dormant Tenorio Volcano. Enjoy hiking along this blue-hued river to the famous Río Celeste waterfall. Read More
Explore the Water
With gorgeous stretches of coastline and an intricate network of waterways crisscrossing through the country, you can enjoy a different side to Costa Rica's natural appeal with coastal and water adventures.
Palo Verde National Park Boat Tour & Artisanal Village
Avid birders and wildlife enthusiasts love Palo Verde National Park, a protected preserve featuring the Tempisque River. Enjoy a cruise on the water, keeping an eye out for birds, such as tiger herons, ospreys, ibises, and the Jabiru. After the cruise, stop in the small village of Guaitil, known for its locally handcrafted pottery passed down from generations. Read More
Canoeing the Tortuguero Canals
Tortuguero National Park offers a swathe of rainforest laced by a network of intricate waterways. Your naturalist guide will lead the way as you canoe through these canals so you can focus on wildlife spotting. Try to see as many animals as you can, including 200 species of bird, three types of monkeys, crocodiles, caimans, toucans, sloths, and many more. Read More
Snorkeling & Hiking in Cahuita National Park
Cahuita National Park sits on the country's southern Caribbean coast and offers various excursions. Explore the park starting with a boat ride, which leads to a popular snorkeling spot just offshore. Catch views of tropical fish, stingrays, octopuses, and nurse sharks, all living among coral formations. Then, head inland to hike through the rainforest, looking for monkeys, tropical birds, sloths, iguanas, poisonous dart frogs, and other critters. Read More
How to Craft the Perfect Nature Itinerary in Costa Rica
Costa Rica's nature is the country's highlight. It supports active experiences in Costa Rica, wildlife spotting, birding, and other forms of eco-tourism, plus plays an important role in luxury excursions in the country. Therefore, any itinerary in Costa Rica will undoubtedly feature the country's sublime nature.
The question is, how many days should you spend in Costa Rica, enjoying its stunning landscapes? If you'd like to stick to one theme or region, such as finding cascades in Arenal/La Fortuna, you only need four or five days. However, a good rule of thumb is at least one week in Costa Rica. Seven days or more will allow you enough time to enjoy your trip at a leisurely pace or combine two or three regions.
Some popular regional combinations include: Osa Peninsula, Manuel Antonio, & San Jose; Talamanca, Tortuguero, & San Jose; Nicoya Peninsula, Monteverde, & Arenal/La Fortuna; or Monteverde, Arenal/La Fortuna, Tamarindo, & Nicoya Peninsula.
Past kimkim travelers have enjoyed the following itineraries that include nature experiences in Costa Rica: